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Parent Champions open uniform bank to support local families

A staggering 276 families have been spared the cost of some school uniform, thanks to an initiative set up by Compass Support’s Parent Champions in Castle Vale.

The new uniform bank was opened at The Sanctuary in mid-July to distribute second-hand items free of charge.
Molly Miles, Volunteer Coordinator from Compass Support, the charitable arm of The Pioneer Group, works with Parent Champions in

Castle Vale, and said:

“I am so proud of Jodi (Dunstan), Jayne (Herbert), Jess (Llewellyn) and Lisa (Pountney) who are helping children and families far and wide. Hopefully, we’ll be able to continue to support children and families with essential school uniforms in 2021.”

“The project was planned back in February and was on hold till early July when lockdown eased. It’s a brilliant initiative in terms of both saving money for struggling families, especially those with multiple children, and for sustainability reasons as much of the uniform is in perfectly good condition.”

In order to help raise awareness of the project and let parents know where they can donate, the Parent Champions have set up a Facebook page and are planning to distribute leaflets.

The cost of specific school uniform requirements can run into hundreds of pounds per pupil and this initiative aims to reduce some of that financial burden.

Uniform is available for local schools, including Chivenor, St Gerards, Topcliffe, Pegasus and Greenwood Academy. However, families affected by the coronavirus pandemic are donating and collection from further afield, for example Smiths Wood, as some uniform is standard issue.

Once uniform is donated at The Sanctuary, it’s put into “quarantine”, washed, dried and ironed ready for a new owner. The team has so far done 82 loads of washing!

Boys trousers are the most popular donated item, as many teenagers grow out of clothes quickly. Items on the wish list are PE kits, including t-shirts, pumps and shorts.

When picking up uniform, parents or carers need to make an appointment and will be met by a volunteer, all socially distanced and abiding by government regulations.

As a result of her hard work at the uniform clothing bank, especially with the added fears and pressures around COVID-19, Jodi Dunstan was nominated for and won a local Facebook competition celebrating community endeavours. She says:

“We are receiving requests from people of all different backgrounds, and we’re so happy to give back to the community. We had one family that needed to kit out a family of seven children – can you imagine the cost?”

“We’ll carry on as long as we can as we understand the hardships many families are currently facing. Between us volunteers we have 13 school-aged children of our own. We love being able to help, and just the relief on the parents/carers faces and the joy that uniform that fits brings is phenomenal.”

Any donated uniform not suitable for use is being donated for “ragging” and the funds generated are ploughed back into running the uniform scheme.

To find out more about donating or picking up uniform, please visit the Vale clothing project on Facebook by clicking here or call 0121 748 8111.